The introduced a tentative budget for 2011-2012 Thursday night that brings a reduction in staff and programs next year to compensate for cuts in state aid last year as well as the mandated 2 percent property tax cap.
While the district was notified last week that it will receive $261,940 in state aid, which comes after a $1.4 million loss in aid last year, “It’s nowhere near what boards of ed used to get,” said Peter Karavites, board of education president.
“It’s better news,” he said of the unanticipated aid, which is about 1 percent of last year’s budget, “but it’s not good or great news.”
The $26.4 million general fund budget will be supported by a $20.6 million tax levy, which is a 2 percent increase above last year.
Due to a reduction in ratables within the two sending districts, there will be a tax change, according to Business Administrator Tamar Sydney-Gens. The average home in Tinton Falls, assessed at $321,226 will see a $36.11 annual increase and the average home in Shrewsbury Township, assessed at $150,000, will actually see a $97.83 annual decrease.
While the district will be forced to make cuts to programs and teaching staff, Karavites said the aid would be used to reinstate items initially cut from next year’s budget.
In terms of staffing next year, the district will eliminate one full-time science teacher at the middle school; reduce three full-time specials teachers (art, vocal music and physical education) to part-time positions; and eliminate one full-time secretary.
During the public portion of the meeting, teacher Sheila Gelsomine asked the board if upcoming retirements would affect the board’s decisions to cut positions. Karavites said there was a priority list developed by the superintendent for bringing programs and services back to the district due to attrition.
Referring to the district’s administration, resident Inice Hennessey asked, “What about the top?”
Karavites pointed out that over the last few years, the school district has eliminated an assistant superintendent position, vice principals and a supervisor of curriculum (the current superintendent now oversees curriculum for the three buildings). Karavites said that all administrators took a zero percent salary increase going into next year.
Prior to receiving news about state aid, the district had planned to eliminate all clubs and sports and consider a “pay to participate” system. With the aid coming back to the district, Superintendent John Russo said that a few clubs would be fully funded by the district (National Jr. Honor Society, Band, Student Council and Yearbook).
State aid received will also help offset possible costs of two special needs students entering the district requiring out of district placement, that could cost approximately $110,000.
Russo also highlighted district initiatives, such as the expansion of the middle school media center, a Latin infusion curriculum at the elementary level, the vocal music program and continued enhancement of the Genesis Parent Portal.
The budget will be presented to the county superintendent next who could recommend further cuts, according to Karavites. The district is also still waiting to hear if it will receive any additional extraordinary aid through the state.
Administrators will present the budget this month to the Parent Teacher Association and a hearing on the final budget will take place on March 28. The public will have an opportunity to vote on the budget on April 27.
Karavites said he had seen emails urging parents not to support the budget as a way to protest the ongoing negotiations with the Tinton Falls Education Association to settle a contract that’s almost two years overdue.
“There’s been a lot of discussions at ball games to vote down the budget because of what’s happening in town,” he said, and explained that the defeated budget would then go to the borough council for potentially further cuts and a loss of more staff and programs. “It only hurts the children.”